How do you ask the questions

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Questionnaire design in international markets is a difficult process. Problems occur when one set of cultural values is used to interrogate another. Language is the most obvious problem; questionnaires should be translated, and checked through the use of backtranslation. Understanding of a basic questionnaire can be enhanced through the increased use of show cards or other stimuli. However, even when this is done problems still occur. The view that the USA and the UK are divided by a common language reveals the importance of other cultural factors.

For example, in the USA to 'wash up' means to wash one's hands. In the UK it means to wash the dishes.

The problem of differences in cultural references, symbols and associations is very difficult to resolve without an understanding of the cultural construct of the country concerned.

For example, in Japan or China respondents may not wish to offend interviewers by giving negative responses to questions._

Attitudes towards ideas of time, material culture, the role of women, religion and sexual behaviour will differ. This can be solved through the use of local research agencies and a desire to be locally sensitive to customer needs so that questionnaires are designed for the market under consideration rather than for the sponsor of the research.

Where strategy dictates a uniform approach to multicountry marketing, adequate briefing and control of the agency or agencies concerned are crucial. Research International has several approaches to international research that have been shown to be useful. Paramount among these is the creation of a multicultural team of internationally trained and developed researchers, who can think in the 'Research International way' but maintain sensitivity to cultural differences.

General advice on questionnaire design is given in Chapter 8. For international research it is particularly important that the questionnaire should be clearly worded and well set out, with country-specific questions at the end. Pilot testing by local researchers will allow informed discussion of the questionnaire and question design and content, to ensure that valid and relevant questions are asked. For qualitative research it is helpful if country nationals can be found with the relevant skills and experience. The nature of qualitative work makes it less likely that the non-national would have the range of language or the cultural awareness to be able to use these techniques satisfactorily.

Team LiB

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